DECEMBER 2, 2010
Key was key, says Sauber
Peter Sauber has confirmed that he is a 100% stakeholder in the team he bought back from BMW at the end of last year, and that he doesn't regret making the move despite a tough start to 2010.
"There are no plans to sell the team or any part of it," he explained. "Our partnership with Telmex, which will come into force on 1st January 2011, does not include any kind of stakeholding and is purely a sponsoring agreement. A year ago I said that I didn't want to remain on the pit wall when I turned 70. That's still the case, and I'm now 67. The critical thing for me is to ensure that we bring even greater stability and that we have a financial basis on which to move forward from a sporting point of view. When that's in place, the time will have come for me to take a step back."
Sauber thinks his team can be proud of the turnaround it achieved in 2010 and adds: "At the start of the season the car was not only too slow it was also unreliable, which is extremely unusual for this team. It made negotiations with potential sponsors pretty much a non-starter. Then, in April, James Key took over as technical director and achieved a great deal in a short period of time.
"After collecting just a single championship point in the first eight races of the season, we added another 36 over the next eight GPs - plus seven in the final three races, added to which James also implemented a series of organisational changes."
Explaining the decision to substitute Pedro de la Rosa with Nick Heidfeld before Singapore, Sauber says it is a move he would make again: "We were in a situation where we didn't know how far we had come in terms of performance. Both drivers were new to the team, we didn't know them very well and we didn't know how good the car was. What we were missing was a reliable benchmark. We knew Nick well after working with him for many years, and that allowed us to gauge the progress."
Sauber is not averse to taking a risk on a rookie driver, however, and says of Kamui Kobayashi's first year in F1: "He inspires us all. His refreshing, attacking style really puts a smile on your face. You can tell from reactions in the stands that the fans love him too; his overtaking moves are always great to watch. Kamui is also a very clever driver and understands how to put a pre-defined strategy into action. He's progressed wonderfully well. When I signed him I had to put up with critical comments but my gut feeling told me that Kamui was something special.
"I'm confident that we're going into next year in good shape from a driver point of view. Kamui has also made big steps on the technical side of things, and I have no doubt that he will continue to grow with his new responsibility. Sergio Perez is brimming with talent. For him, it's a question of learning quickly. He can pick things up from Kamui in the same way that Kamui did from Pedro and Nick. Plus, it's worth remembering that 2001 was one of the most successful years to date for Sauber - and that season we had a rookie by the name of Kimi Raikkonen alongside Nick, who was in only his second year in F1..."